City groups prevent escalating costs of loneliness

Preventing loneliness for the city’s older people and the cost public purse is the reason 130 organisations are attending Possabilty People’s ‘Citywide Connect’ event at Fabrica on Thursday 22 November

Since 2014, the Citywide Connect programme has brought together over 1,000 people from 215 groups and organisations in the charity, public and business sectors, to use their resources, build new connections and cross sector relationships, and explore opportunities to work together to prevent loneliness and ill health for people in later life.

Geraldine Des Moulins, Chief Executive of Possability People says:

“We know that loneliness and isolation costs, not just to the people who suffer dreadfully, but because isolated and lonely people are far more likely to become ill and stay ill for longer.

“If just 10% of the 7000 most vulnerable and isolated lonely people over 65 in Brighton and Hove benefited from the programme, there would would be the potential to save over £3 million for local health and social care budgets. And that’s a saving we cannot afford to ignore”.

Ironically, The Citywide Connect programme is set for closure as local funds become more scarce, even though the programme has worked hard creatively to prevent loneliness.

For example, Bungards Funeral Directors have been involved to learn how better to support older people after a bereavement.

Managing Director, Richard Whittle said:

“We have invited city groups to meet our coffee morning guests and I am pleased to say that we have already signposted our clients to several groups met through Citywide Connect such as Home and Company, The Posh Club, Befriending groups. We aim to promote more and more to our members and support them and this would be difficult without Citywide Connect who can bring us all together in such an organised and effective manner”.

Brighton & Hove Buses’ Managing Director Martin Harris said:

“Public transport, particularly local bus services, has a role in helping to break down loneliness. we’re keen to develop the way we work with partners like Possability People, the City Council and others, to collaborate and build networks to help tackle these important issues.”

B&H Buses have various initiatives to tackle loneliness, including our free Friday bus for the Friends of Bevendean, who often go out and have fish and chips on the seafront.

Loretta Harrison, from Home and Company provides help to people who need some support to get the best out of life, said:

“Home & Company hugely values the opportunity to meet and work with colleagues across the city. It’s so helpful to know what’s available, and be able to fast-track our clients to relevant organisations and services that will be of benefit”.

It is estimated* that the increased service use associated with isolation and loneliness results in a cost to the public sector of £12,000 per person, per year, over fifteen years  (40% of this cost occurs in the first five years). It is estimated that 7,000 people aged 50+ in Brighton and Hove are lonely all or most of the time. That would equate to a total estimated cost over the fifteen year period of £1,260,000,000

*Source: Social Action in conjunction with Age UK Herefordshire and Worcestershire 2015

Citywide Connect has shown that co-ordinated action works effectively and at a relatively low cost. Through its action pledge approach, where people from different organisations promise to do something together, 80% of the 930 pledges made were completed. For people in later life this has resulted in them having direct access to a broader range of options to stay well.

The Citywide Connect event takes place on Thursday 22 November at Fabrica Gallery in Brighton.